Men's hoops makes short work of Kenya
By Chris Kaftan
SOFIA, Bulgaria - Sixty years of experience vs. two games of experience; 80 straight Deaflympic wins vs. first-ever Deaflympics basketball game. The United States, winner of 14 straight gold medals, on one side of the court. Kenya, playing in the Games for the first time, on the other side of the court.
Result: a 112-24 victory for the U.S. in its second game of pool play Saturday at Overgas Hall.
Head coach Keith Westhoelter emphasized to his team before the game that players should treat Kenya like any other opponent.
“If we lowered our expectations, then we would get sloppy and that may impact how we perform in our next game,” Westhoelter said.
“I wanted us to focus on keeping our defense intact and not playing below our expectations.”
The players took that to heart and dominated in every aspect of the game. They outrebounded Kenya 63 to 37, forced 36 turnovers, and scored 49 points off the turnovers.
Each player on the United States team averaged 14 minutes of action, and the team made 66 percent of its field goals and 11 of 18 free throws.
Westhoelter drew from the bench, putting in Ben Coleman, Tyler Crace, Layton Seeber and Joshua McGriff for their Deaflympic debut.
“Coach KW told us not to downplay the game and not to lower our intensity,” said Seeber, who made two 3-pointers and finished with 19 points, four assists, and three rebounds. “We didn’t focus well at first in the beginning of the game, but after halftime, we ramped up our intensity and shut down the Kenyans.”
Joshua McGriff, a 6-8 forward with soft hands, made 18 points and grabbed six boards in his first action in an American uniform.
“It was a great experience playing today, and I was really happy with how I played,” McGriff said.
Crace led all U.S. players with three 3-pointers and finished with 13 points in the game. Coleman chipped in with stingy defense, five rebounds and three points. Danny Kelly co-led the United States with 19 points.
The U.S. next plays Austria at noon Sunday in Overgas Hall.